The new Ranfurly Shield holders Canterbury are on track for a home semi-final in the provincial rugby competition - the champions top the standings with two rounds of the ITM Cup remaining, after vanquishing Southland in Invercargill.
The Stags drop to fifth, six points back while Taranaki are now second, three behind Canterbury and just a point ahead of third-placed Waikato. Auckland are close behind in fourth, also one point behind.
Wellington look to have escaped the ignominy of missing out on next season's Premiership by settling into sixth above the luckless Bay of Plenty, whose captain Colin Bourke may be in hot water with the judiciary for slating the referees after Sunday's Tasman match.
Bourke claimed the refs weren't up to standard in their two-point loss, he says the Makos were constantly and deliberately cheating at the breakdown.
Counties Manukau are still within range of the top seven Premiership, three behind the Steamers - but Hawke's Bay need other results to go their way while Northland are only a mathematical chance now and North Harbour, Tasman, Manawatu and current wooden spooners Otago will definitely play in the Championship next year.